Scientists uncover possible reason for SS Waratah's disappearance 100 years later

SS WaratahSS Waratah

Date: 15 July, 1999

The SS Waratah was a luxury steamer, en route from Cape Town to Durban, South Africa, on 26 July 1909. The ship, built in Scotland, was meant to serve as a passenger and cargo liner to Australia.

After her second trip to Australia, the SS Waratah was bound for Durban, and arrived in this harbour on 1 July 1909. With 211 passengers and crew on board, she left for Cape Town, which she was expected to reach by 29 July. However, the Waratah did not reach its destination, and no trace of the wreckage was found.

A number of wreckages, bearing similarities to the outline of the steamer, were spotted along the cost of South Africa between 1925 and 1999. None of them, however, proved to be that of the Waratah.

Several theories have developed as to what might have caused the disappearance of the SS Waratah. On 15 July 2009, the most popular theory, supported by research on sonar imaging, revealed that a freak wave may have capsized the boat, causing its rudder to malfunction. Although maintained as the most likely explanation for the disappearance of the SS Waratah, the mystery of this luxury steamer remains unsolved.


  1. Liu, P.C. (2007) "A chronology of freaque [sic] wave encounters". Published in Geofizika Vol. 24 No.1 2007 [online] [Accessed 7 July 2009]
  2. SAHO Special Project: Shipwrecks


  1. "SS Waratah: Australia's Titanic?" [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 July 2009]
  2. "SS Waratah" [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 July 2009]
  3. Wallis, F. (2000) Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau.